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Big Cleveland project drawing plenty of interest

Dave Johnson

CLEVELAND — A Dutch delegation toured the $465 million Cleveland Global Center for Health Innovation last week, right from the get-go demonstrating the power the new facility will bring to Cleveland's economy and to Cleveland Clinic's goal of making Cleveland the top medical destination in the world.

Mayo Clinic likewise wants Rochester to have that designation.

To that end, Mayo proposed the Destination Medical Center bill, which passed the Minnesota Senate this week and is now in conference committee, where a compromise will emerge between the state House and Senate versions.

Mayo spokesman Karl Oestreich says Cleveland's effort is the most-closely comparable project to Minnesota's DMC plan.

The Cleveland Global Center for Health Innovation was 98 percent complete last week, with a ribbon cutting planned in early June, said Dave Johnson, director of public relations and marketing.


Johnson has been leading tours at the construction site for months, meaning the Dutch delegation of about 25 people is but one of many visiting Cleveland as a result of the new facility — even before it expected opening in October. The more than 50 tenant companies need time to build out the shell space once it's turned over to them in June.

Charles A. de la Porte, Cleveland honorary ambassadorof the Netherlands, told the tour group that several Dutch companies have become interested in Cleveland and Ohio in general because of the Global Center for Health Innovation, which, in addition to Cleveland Clinic, has raised the city's profile internationally even before the center has opened.

"The level of interest is very high," he said.

The Cleveland Convention Center — directly connected underground to the Global Center for Health Innovation — already has 80 events booked, one of which coincides with the Center for Health Innovation's opening in October.

At that time the Cleveland Clinic will bring its Medical Innovation Summit to the Convention Center, Johnson said.

David P. O'Neal, chairman of " Conventional Wisdom Corp. ," a strategic-planning company involved in the Cleveland project, told the tour group from Holland that he looks at the situation as a closed economic "box."

Bringing new dollars in

The goal is to bring new dollars into Cleveland from outside the box that would not otherwise be spent there.


People who attend conferences at the Cleveland Convention Center will be able to go next door to the Global Center for Health Innovation, view and experiment with the latest in health technology, home-health services and patient services.

"That convention center next door is really the economic engine…that's driving those people into the box and spending their dollars," Johnson told the Dutch group.

When dollars get invested in demolition of blighted properties, construction of new facilities and renovation of old ones in downtown Cleveland, O'Neal said, "it causes a ripple effect in private investments."

That is what Mayo Clinic Destination Medical Center advocates have tried to emphasize during the legislative process.

The Cleveland Global Center for Health Innovation and Convention Center project alone triggered redevelopment of two properties in downtown Cleveland and construction of a brand-new one.

Every $1 of public investment results in $5 to $7 in private investment, O'Neal said.

"The rising tide floats all boats," he said, echoing Mayo Clinic CEO Dr. John Noseworthy, who said "all boats will rise" as a result of DMC when he spoke to the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

Each Cleveland economic-development project has produced tangible results, according to O'Neal. The city's new casino, for example, has pushed hotel occupancy farther out from the city center.


But hopes are even higher for the Global Center for Health Innovation.

"This is the first of its kind in the world," Johnson said. Health and technology companies will be brought together "to create the future of health care," he said.

Case Western University plans a simulation center.

Tenants by floor

On the first levelof the the Global Center companies focused on home-based patient care will exhibit a 2,500-square-foot "home of the future."

"Can we stay in our homes longer and not have to move into assisted-living or a nursing home?" Johnson wondered aloud for the Dutch delegation. The concept of "distance medicine" — staying connected with patients from afar — will be at the forefront. Also featured on the Global Center's first floor will be "assistive mobility devices" featuring products made by companies like Invacare and collaborators.

The second floorof the Global Center in Cleveland will focus on what patients currently experience in the medical setting. GE will take the patient through the current experience and show GE-made medical devices that can help treat current medical conditions.

Included on this floor, according to Johnson, will be "disease journeys" experienced by people with conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, heart disease and breast cancer.

The third floor,Johnson said, will bring a collaboration between University Hospitals and Phillips Healthcare focused on the future of imaging. As an example, CT scanners even a couple of years ago could miss things, Johnson said, and often produced a simple black-and-white image. Scanners today, though, can produce 3D and color images. Such technological advances will be showcased on the Global Center's third floor.

The fourth floorwill house the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society , which says online that it is "transforming health care through IT."

If a company comes up with a new heart device, HIMSS can test it to make sure it's compatible with other technologies already on the market.

Johnson said the new HIMSS site at the Global Center for Health Innovation will make such testing available all year.

The Global Center has attracted attention worldwide, Johnson said.

500,000 tons removed

It took 8 months of demolition to remove materials from the blighted property, with 500,000 tons of material removed. The project received LEED silver certification because almost 98 percent of the debris was removed and recycled.

It's the largest steel project in Cleveland history, using 12,200 tons. It has taken 234,000 bolts to hold everything together.

Parking spaces and much of the Cleveland Convention Center are below ground, with roofs topped by open grass, making a large area of downtown green-space available for public celebrations and gatherings.

The Global Center building is owned by Cuyahoga County.

Funding was arranged, through bonds, in a collaborative agreement that gave temporary ownership to the builder and that ownership reverts back to the county after construction is completed.

Tenant companies lease space within the building.

About half the money visitors spend in Cleveland goes to hotels, O'Neal said. About 20 percent goes to restaurants, 10 percent to shops and the remainder to entertainment, taxis and other services.

"The community took the risk of being out of business, for three years, on the bet of bringing in a new state-of-the-art facility that will bring in new money," O'Neal said. "There is no other Global Center for Health Innovation."

Cleveland, O'Neal said, "is one of the great medical centers in the country when you think of destinations. Certainly, Rochester is one of them."

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